July 22nd 2003

This edition of the New York Masters brought us a lot of brand new faces. Israeli GM Victor Mikhalevski has been in the States for a couple of weeks and participated in the World Open earlier this month in Philadelphia, and decided to make his New York Masters debut. Dutch FM Jan van de Mortel is no stranger to chess events, having been a successful journalist for KasparovChess and spent some time in New York City in the past. Jake Kleiman has been a successful junior for quite some time, but hasn’t had many chances to shine, living in Tennessee. Adam Maltese isn’t a brand new face, but by making his third appearance as a qualifier, has enshrined himself on the Website.

The presence of Six GMs made this a very exciting event, especially as we have a very strong crop of dangerous 2300-2400 players. After last week’s insanity with tons of upsets, nothing was going to be taken for granted, even as the GMs played relatively easy opponents in Round 1.

Participant List for 65th NY Masters:

1. GM Alexander Stripunsky
2. GM Alexander Shabalov
3. GM Ildar Ibragimov
4. GM Alek Wojtkiewicz
5. GM Victor Mikhalevski
6. GM Michael Rohde
7. IM Jay Bonin
8. FM Lev Milman
9. FM Jan Van de Mortel
10. IM Justin Sarkar
11. FM Boris Privman
12. NM Salvijus Bercys
13. FM Igor Schneider
14. NM Jake Kleiman
15. NM Marc Esserman
16. NM Rafal Furdzik
17. WFM Laura Ross
18. Adam Maltese
19. Larry Tamarkin - Filler


1st - $400
2nd - $150
3rd - $ 80
U2400 - $120



1 Sarkar - Stripunsky 0-1
2 Ibragimov - Privman 1-0
3 Bercys - Shabalov LIVE GAME!
4 Wojtkiewicz - Schneider 1-0
5 Esserman - Mikhalevski 0-1
6 Rohde - Kleiman 1/2-1/2
7 Furdzik - Bonin 0-1
8 Milman - Ross 1-0
9 Maltese - van de Mortel 0-1

The upset monster seemed to be hiding this round, as the lone upset of the round was Jake Kleiman’s holding GM Michael Rohde to a draw with the Black pieces. GMs seem to have a knack for pulling off seemingly equal rook endings in time pressure, and Kleiman kept his cool and forced the draw without much difficulty.

Our featured game showed the reigning US Champion, Alexander Shabalov from Latvia. Shabalov is famous for exciting, aggressive chess, coming from the Latvian school led by the great World Champion, Mikhail Tal. This round Shabalov would test his mettle against the fellow Baltic player, Salvijus Bercys of Lithuania. Bercys is a new arrival in the USA, and announced his arrival in a big way by tying for first in the US Junior Open held in the Bronx last month. With spectator Estonian GM Jaan Ehlvest watching closely, this was truly a Baltic affair.

(1) Bercys,S (2305) - Shabalov,A (2644) [D48]
65th New York Masters New York (1), 22.07.2003

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 a6 10.e4 c5 11.d5 Qc7 12.Qe2 c4 13.Bc2 Bd6 14.dxe6 fxe6 15.Nd4 Nc5 16.f4 e5 17.Nf5 0-0 18.Nxd6 Qxd6 19.fxe5 Qxe5

So far, so theory. This has all been well-known since the famous Kasparov - Akopian game from the Yerevan Olympiad in 1996. 20. Rf5 was chosen by Kasparov in that game, and has been considered the best move in the position. The biggest problem to this point was the huge amount of time Bercys used up in getting here.

20.Bf4 Qe6 21.e5 Nd5 22.Nxd5 Bxd5 23.Bg3

A new move. 23.Rad1 was tried in Meiser - Maksimenko, Slovakia 1995, but Black had the better of that game as well.

23...Qc6 24.Rfd1 Rad8 25.Rd2 Be4 26.Rd6 Rxd6 27.exd6 Bxc2 28.Qxc2 Nd3 29.Qe2 Re8 30.Qg4 Qc5+ 31.Kh1 Qxd6 32.Qxc4+ bxc4 33.Bxd6 Re2

Shabalov has experly converted his advantage. The Rook on the seventh rank and the excellently placed and supported Knight on d3 are a monster, and way too much for Bercys to handle, despite the reduced material.

34.Ba3 Kf7 35.Rf1+ Ke6 36.Kg1 Nxb2 37.Rf2 Re1+ 38.Rf1 Rxf1+ 39.Kxf1 c3 40.Ke2 Kd5 41.Bf8 g6 42.Ba3 Ke4 43.Bb4 c2 44.Ba3 c1Q 0-1


Key Pairings

1 Stripunsky - Mikhalevski LIVE GAME!
2 Bonin - Ibragimov 1-0
3 Shabalov - Milman 1/2-1/2
4 van de Mortel - Wojtkiewicz 1-0

Five GMs walked into Round 2 with a perfect score under their belt, and it was possible for Four of them to remain perfect going into Round 3. The upset monster, however, had other plans. Seemingly late in traffic, the upset monster decided to wreak havoc on the boards downstairs. Dutch FM Jan van de Mortel efficiently rolled his queenside pawns against GM Alek Wojtkiewicz, completely knocking the Polish Grandmaster off the board.

Lev Milman has really gotten strong at the New York Masters. When we first started running these tournaments over a year ago, Lev was a fresh faced young Master who was known for the occasional upset, but not much more. He’s transformed himself into a very strong over 2400 player, who has to be feared in every game he plays. Ever since his fantastic success at the National Chess Congress in Philly, he’s been having great results against GMs. The only person to stop him in that National Chess Congress was Alex Shabalov, but Lev got a measure of revenge today when he held Shabba to a draw. Milman tried to make as much headway as possible in Knight + Knight + Bishop + g-pawn vs. Rook + Bishop + h-pawn, but couldn’t break through Shabba’s tenacious defense.

Jay Bonin has played in ALL 65 New York Masters events, and has been an icon in the New York Chess scene for decades. Always dangerous, Jay reminded everyone why he’s so well respected by knocking off the friendly GM Ildar Ibragimov.

That left us with the lone GM vs. GM matchup of Round 2. Alex Stripunsky is a long time player in the Masters, and Victor Mikhalevski is playing in his first event. Let’s see what happened…

(2) Stripunsky,A (2651) - Mikhalevski,V (2573) [C42]
65th New York Masters New York (2), 22.07.2003

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Bf4 0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Nc5 10.Nd4 Bf6 11.f3 Ne6 12.Be3 Nxd4 13.cxd4 Re8 14.Bd3 Be6

I've refrained from comment on the opening so far since it has all been seen before. Stripunsky played a variation against the Petroff aimed at getting his pieces out rapidly and castling Queenside, although in this position, he doesn't have a large advantage. Evgeny Sveshnikov played 15. h4 against Alexander Kochyev in the Lvov Zonal in 1978, but that game was quickly drawn.


Of course, some novelties are better than others. This one simply loses a pawn to 15...Bxg4! The point is that after 16. fxg4 Black has 16...Rxe3! and the rook is immune due to Bg5, hitting both the King on c1 and the Queen on e3. This didn't work earlier due to the move f4, but since the f-pawn is now gone, that isn't possible.

15...Bd5 16.Rhf1 Qe7 17.Rde1 Bh4 18.Re2 c6 19.c4 Be6 20.Kb1 Qd7 21.h3 b5 22.d5!

This central break leaves White with a better structure and a large advantage.

22...cxd5 23.cxd5 Bxd5 24.Bxh7+ Kxh7 25.Qxd5 Kg8 26.Qd3 Qe6 27.Rc1 a6

Trying to trade the bishops off with 27...Bf2 might have been Mikhalevski's last chance to save the draw.

28.Rcc2 Qf6 29.Bd4 Qf4 30.a3 Rxe2 31.Rxe2 Rc8 32.Bc3 Qg3 33.Qf5 Rd8 34.Be1


Tempting, but wrong. The way to actually secure an advantage was to play 34...Qg1 in order to pin the Bishop on e1 to the King on b1.


Now White has a pin of his own!


A huge blunder, allowing a forced mate.


Now it's all over.

36...Qf1+ 37.Ka2 f6 38.Qg6+ 1-0

Leaders after Round 2

2 points: GM Stripunsky, IM Bonin, FM van de Mortel
1.5 points: GM Shabalov, FM Milman, NM Kleiman


Key Pairings

1 Bonin - Stripunsky LIVE GAME!
2 Shabalov - van de Mortel 1-0
3 Milman - Kleiman 1-0

In Round 3, Jan van de Mortel’s run was finally put to an end by Alex Shabalov. Board 3 found Lev Milman playing Jake Kleiman, with both on 1.5/2! Shockingly, only two of the six GMs who started the tournament had a plus score at the halfway stage.

Jay Bonin has played Alex Stripunsky countless times and has had some horrible results, helped by a big dose of bad luck. Jay’s finally struck back in recent games, but the overall trend was really bad. Would Jay be able to turn it around and run off to a 3/3 lead?

(3) Bonin,J (2440) - Stripunsky,A (2651) [A29]
65th New York Masters New York (3), 22.07.2003

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Nd4 5.Bg2 Nxf3+ 6.Bxf3 Bb4 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.cxd5

No sooner than move eight, and Jay has succeeded in trading all the Knights off of the board.

8...0-0 9.0-0 Be7 10.d4 exd4 11.Qxd4 c5 12.dxc6 dxc6 13.Be3 Qxd4 14.Bxd4

We've arrived at a two bishops and two rooks endgame. Objectively, this should be drawn, but Black tends to have the edge in these situations due to his ability to make a passed pawn on the Queenside. (The passed pawn White may make on the Kingside is diminished in strength due to the presence of the Kings there, which is another piece that can be used to stop the pawn.)

14...Rd8 15.Rfd1 Be6 16.Bc3 f6 17.b4 Kf7 18.a4 a6 19.Kf1 Bb3 20.Rxd8 Rxd8 21.b5 axb5 22.axb5 cxb5 23.Ra7 Rd1+ 24.Kg2 Rd7 25.Rxb7 Rxb7 26.Bxb7

The situation has somewhat clarified itself. Black has a very real passed pawn on the Queenside, while White has gotten absolutely nowhere in his quest to create a passed pawn of his own. Put simply, if the b-pawn can be stopped, it's a draw. If not, Stripunsky wins.

26...b4 27.Bb2 f5 28.Kf3 Bc4 29.e4 fxe4+ 30.Bxe4

The trade of pawns gets White one step closer to the draw.

30...b3 31.Ke3 g6 32.f4 Be6 33.Kd3 Bc5 34.Bf3?!

Somehow this move feels wrong, giving Black the ability to get to White's Kingside pawns.

34...Bg1 35.g4 Bxh2 36.f5 gxf5 37.gxf5 Bxf5+ 38.Kc4 Be6+ 39.Bd5 Bxd5+ 40.Kxd5

This is Jay's big idea. The b-pawn will fall, after which White will have B and wrong color Rook's pawn. However, this only draws if the King can get to h1 or sacrifice his Bishop for the pawn.

40...h5 41.Kc4 Ke6 42.Kxb3 Be5!

The key move. After which the Black Bishop cuts its White counterpart from getting to the h-pawn.


43.Kc2 Bxb2? 44.Kd2!! Would draw, as the King would make it to h1. Unfortunately, 43... h4! spoils White's plans.

43...h4 44.Be3 Kf5 45.Kc2 Ke4 46.Kd2 Kf3 47.Ke1

one more cute trick to try to get to h1. Stripunsky sees right through it.



Leaders after Round 3

3 pts – Stripunsky
2.5 pts – Shabalov, Milman
2.0 pts - Mikhalevski, van de Mortel, Furdzik, Bonin


Key Pairings

1 Stripunsky - Shabalov LIVE GAME!
2 Mikhalevski - Milman 1-0
3 van de Mortel - Bonin 1-0
4 Furdzik - Ibragimov 1/2-1/2

Alex Stripunsky had held onto the Internet board with an iron grip throughout the tournament. Only needing a draw to clinch first place, the White pieces are a blessing, unless your opponent is Alex Shabalov. Shabalov’s combativeness has won him lots of fans recently, after his brave performance to win the 2003 US Championships in Seattle. Occasionally his fighting spirit gets the worse of him, but you certainly know you’re in for an entertaining game. Since a draw was no good to Shabalov, you can definitely expect him to beat down the house in order to win this game. Stripunsky would have to test his mettle to win this tournament.

(4) Stripunsky,A (2651) - Shabalov,A (2644) [B24]
65th New York Masters New York (4), 22.07.2003

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 h5!?

Vintage Shabalov. Facing Stripunsky with the Black pieces is never an easy task, especially when you have to win! This move was first played by the great Argentine GM Herman Pilnik in 1959, the same year that the famous Danish GM Bent Larsen essayed an early h5 against a Kingside Bishop Fianchetto against that famous Danish player Frode Terkelsen.


Stripunsky continues as if nothing has happened, calmly placing his Bishop on g2 as he intended.

The instinctual reaction against such h-pawn stampedes, 4.h4 could be considered, although the g4 square becomes somewhat compromised.; 4.h3 may be preferred by those with a weaker stomach.

4...h4 5.g4

Attempting to seal off the Kingside the next move by playing h3. Shabalov, of course, has other plans.


This pawn sacrifice is the logical continuation of Black's strategy. For a pawn, Black obtains the open h-file for counterplay (And we know how much Shabalov loves counterplay), as well as the discombobulation of White's pieces, and at some point in the future, perhaps the f4 and h4 squares will be of use. This had all been seen before in the game Kokolias - Falkos, Aegina open 1996. However, that game wasn't very good, so we can give Shabalov full credit for an interesting and new continuation.

6.Nxh3 e5 7.Ng1 Nge7 8.d3 Ng6

The Knight now takes up control of the weak f4 and h4 squares.

9.h3 d6 10.Be3 Be6 11.Qd2 Be7 12.Nd5 Qd7 13.c3 0-0-0 14.Nf3 Kb8 15.0-0-0 Rc8 16.Kb1 Bd8 17.Rc1 Ba5 18.Qe2 Rhe8 19.Rhd1 Nd4!

A cute shot! Shabalov continues to make threatening moves.


The idea, of course, is 20.cxd4 exd4 21.Bg5 Bxd5 regaining the piece. Silicon warriors would try to play 20. cxd4 exd4 21. Bd2, in order to attack the Bishop on a5, but after 21...Bxd5 22. Bxa5 Qa4!, things get messy. White probably has to go in for something like 23. b4, but who would want to play that position against Shabalov? Certainly not Stripunsky, who just calmly retreats his queen.

20...Nb5 21.Nd2 Bd8 22.f4 Bxd5 23.exd5 exf4 24.Bxf4 Nxf4 25.Qxf4 Bf6 26.Be4

Stripunsky seems to have everything under control, and focuses his attack on the offsides Knight on b5, the weak pawn on d6, and eventually, making a passed pawn with his extra h-pawn.

26...Qd8 27.Rc2 Ka8 28.Nc4 Qe7 29.Rf1 Rf8 30.a4 Be5 31.Qf2 Nc7 32.Re2 Qe8 33.Nxe5 dxe5 34.Qxc5 Qxa4 35.d6 Nb5

Uh oh. Shabalov has gotten his pieces to start menacing White's king. When a player as tactically gifted as Shabalov starts doing that, one should take serious precautions.


36.Rxf7 would be a brilliant move here, if Black didn't have the embarrassing 36...Qd1+ forcing perpetual check.

36...Rc6 37.Qa2 Qxa2+ 38.Kxa2 Rxd6 39.g5

Now that the smoke has cleared, Stripunsky has found himself with the better endgame, due to a wonderfully centralized Bishop, a weak pawn on an open file (f7), and the prospect of engineering a passed h-pawn. Grandmasters don't hesitate to go for the win here, and Stripunsky is a good Grandmaster.

39...Kb8 40.h4 Nc7 41.Ref2 Rd7 42.h5 Ne6

42...Re7 followed by 43...Ne6 was suggested by IM Mark Ginsburg on ICC as an improvement, to avoid the pin.

43.Bf5 Re8 44.Bxe6 fxe6 45.Rf8 Rxf8 46.Rxf8+ Kc7 47.g6

Black now has to continually worry himself about White having the break h6 available.

47...Kd6 48.Ra8 a6 49.Kb3 e4 50.dxe4 Ke5 51.Rf8 Kxe4 52.Rf7 Rd5 53.Rxg7 Rxh5 54.Rxb7 Rg5 55.g7

at this point, perhaps Black should go the cautious route, and play 55...Kd5, to try to stop the passed c-pawn. Instead, Shabalov bravely pushes his e-pawn, which unfortunately is not enough to stop both the c and g-pawns.

55...e5 56.Rd7 Kf3 57.c4 e4 58.Rf7+ Kg3 59.Re7 Kf2 60.c5 e3 61.c6 e2 62.c7


Congratulations to Alex Stripunsky for winning yet another New York Masters event. Excellent showings were put in by newcomers Victor Mikhalevski and Jan van de Mortel who shared 2nd place and the Under 2400 prize. Alex Shabalov, Lev Milman, Justin Sarkar and Rafal Furdzik each grabbed a quarter share of third place with 2.5/4.

We’ll see you next week with yet another exciting New York Masters!

65th New York Masters Action USA (USA), 22 vii 2003
                                     1   2   3   4   Total
    1. Stripunsky, Alex     g  2651 + 6 + 2 +10 + 4   4.0  ($400)
    2. Mikhalevski, Victor  g  2573 +13 - 1 +17 + 5   3.0  ($135)
    3. van de Mortel, Jan   f  2399 +15 + 9 - 4 +10   3.0  ($135)
    4. Shabalov, Alex       g  2644 +16 = 5 + 3 - 1   2.5  ($ 20)
    5. Milman, Lev          f  2414 +17 = 4 +14 - 2   2.5  ($ 20)
    6. Sarkar, Justin       m  2396 - 1 +18 = 8 +14   2.5  ($ 20)
    7. Furdzik, Rafal          2200 -10 +11 + 9 = 8   2.5  ($ 20)
    8. Ibragimov, Ildar     g  2647 +11 -10 = 6 = 7   2.0
    9. Wojtkiewicz, Alek    g  2619 +12 - 3 - 7 +17   2.0
   10. Bonin, Jay           m  2440 + 7 + 8 - 1 - 3   2.0
   11. Privman, Boris       f  2340 - 8 - 7 =15 +19   1.5
   12. Schneider, Igor      f  2230 - 9 =15 =16 =13   1.5
   13. Esserman, Marc          2228 - 2 -17 +19 =12   1.5
   14. Kleiman, Jake           2207 =18 +16 - 5 - 6   1.5
   15. Maltese, Adam           2001 - 3 =12 =11 =16   1.5
   16. Bercys, Salvijus        2305 - 4 -14 =12 =15   1.0
   17. Ross, Laura         wf  2144 - 5 +13 - 2 - 9   1.0
   18. Rohde, Michael       g  2498 =14 - 6 --- ---   0.5
   19. Tamarkin, Larry         2184 --- --- -13 -11   0.0

PRIZES 1ST - $400 2ND - $150 3RD - $ 80 U2400 - $120